A classically trained sarod and tabla player who plays palm-wine guitar music and DJs funky beats, James Whetzel, aka Baba James, is a multi-instrumentalist producer who combines these elements with darbouka and throat singing to create new electro-acoustic music that melds the melodic subtleties of ragas with punchy desi beats, elegant African grooves, and electronica.
For several years he has been the main DJ/music programmer behind the music in the International Fountain at Seattle Center. He has done all the music for the fountain except for the pieces of specially choreographed water displays known as the "big show." He was commissioned to do an International DJ remix for the big show programming in 2006. The mix included music by Rachid Taha, DJ Krush, MC Solaar, Manu Chao, Sukshinder Shinda, Fatala, Soulstance, and had exclusive remixes of Vela Luka Croatian Dance Ensemble and Tito Puente.
He has produced recordings in many styles including: Hip Hop, Rock, African traditional music, Indian traditional music, break beat, House, Fuji, IDM, Kryo, Bhangra, Bollywood and more.
He has remixed all kinds of music also, his two most famous remixes being his remake of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War," and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's I Have A Dream" speech. You can hear the "I Have A Dream Remake" on ilike.
He is a student of the Moroccan darbouka player Larbi Aguinou. He took throat singing tips from the members of Huun Huur Tu, and studied Tibetan Buddhist singing with Kelak Persang Lama. He studied tabla with Akram Khan, Lowell Lybarger, Vishal Nagar and Shree Deepayan. He studied vocal music at the Ali Akbar College of Music, and with Urmila Nagar. He studied sarod with Bruce Hamm at the Ali Akbar College of Music. He studied West African palmwine and highlife guitar music with legendary Nigerian musician I.K. Dairo and with the legendary Ghanaian musician Koo Nimo. He performed as a backing guitarist for Koo Nimo at several concerts in the USA.
Along with Steve Sneed at Seattle Center he started the initiative that led to the creation of the City of Seattle's "on-hold" music program.
Additional links to James Whetzel's music: